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Old 07-02-2019, 09:11 PM   #1
DealerEx
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Join Date: May 2009
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Default RIP Lee Iacocca

One of the last great "car guys" and also a "dealer guy" is gone and the end of an era passes with him. A man of action and great marketing vision. I don't know of a dealer that didn't like him. He could get things done. He was the reason I chose to go with Chrysler back in 1986. I had been to a Southwest Region "road show" meeting with the President of GM and all the top execs and in a Q&A session, I asked him what he saw as the future of the "small mom and pop" dealers going forward. He gave an honest answer and explained his reasoning. He said he would hate to try and survive over the next 20 years as a small volume dealer because he was afraid that the technological changes that were coming in the manufacturing were going to require expensive equipment and extensive training for the service end of the business that might put the smaller dealers in an noncompetitive position. He said if the manufacturer requires you to purchase a new engine analyzer that costs $50k and you are selling 100 new cars a year, we have just added $500 a unit to your overhead, while a large metro dealer that sells 2000 units has only added $25 per unit to his cost. He said "I would hate to try and survive as a dealer selling 500 new cars a year in that situation. I calculated that over half of the dealers in that room fell in that category. Three weeks later I was at a similar Chrylser meeting and I asked Lee Iacocca the same question and prefaced it with what we had heard from GM. He didn't hesitate and said Chrysler Corporation will NEVER do anything that would endanger the survival of our small dealers, because it was those "mom and pop" dealerships that kept us alive when we were facing bankruptcy. The big city dealers weren't selling cars in volume because we were selling crappy cars. The customers that bought cars from the little guys didn't buy them because we were making great products--they bought them because they knew the dealers selling them and trusted that they would take care of them in spite of it. Lee went on to say that yes, we are facing alot of technological innovations that are going to be expensive, but I will promise eveyone in this room that we WILL find a way to make those changes without putting our small volume dealers at a disadvantage. They made good on that promise as long as Lee was at the helm. I spent the next 20 years as a Chrysler dealer until after the Daimler merger when it all started going to hell, and I got out in 2005 and watched them destroy what used to be a great company and ruin a bunch of those same dealers that Iacocca defended.

Last edited by DealerEx; 07-03-2019 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 07-03-2019, 04:37 AM   #2
steve_biegler
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by DealerEx View Post
One of the last great "car guys" and also a "dealer guy" is gone and the end of an era passes with him. A man of action and great marketing vision. I don't know of a dealer that didn't like him. He could get things done. He was the reason I chose to go with Chrysler back in 1986. I had been to a Southwest Region "road show" meeting with the President of GM and all the top execs and in a Q&A session I asked him what he saw as the future of the "small mom and pop" dealers going forward. He gave an honest answer and explained his reasoning. He said he would hate to try and survive over the next 20 years as a small volume dealer because he was afraid that the technological changes that were coming in the manufacturing were going to require expensive equipment and extensive training for the service end of the business that might put the smaller dealers in an noncompetitive position. He said if the manufacturer requires you to purchase a new engine analyzer that costs $50k and you are selling 100 new cars a year, we have just added $500 a unit to your overhead, while a large metro dealer that sells 2000 units has only added $25 per unit to his cost. He said "I would hate to try and survive as a dealer selling 500 new cars a year in that situation. I calculated that over half of the dealers in that room fell in that category. 3 weeks later I was at a similar Chrylser meeting and I asked Lee Iacocca the same question and prefaced it with what we had heard from GM. He didn't hesitate and said Chrysler Corporation will NEVER do anything that would endanger the survival of our small dealers, because it was those "mom and pop" dealerships that kept us alive when we were facing bankruptcy. The big city dealers weren't selling cars in volume because we were selling crappy cars. The customers that bought cars from the little guys didn't buy them because we were making great products--they bought them because they knew the dealers selling them and trusted that they would take care of them in spite of it. Lee went on to say that yes, we are facing alot of technological innovations that are going to be expensive, but I will promise eveyone in this room that we WILL find a way to make those changes without putting our small volume dealers at a disadvantage. They made good on that promise as long as Lee was at the helm. I spent the next 20 years as a Chrysler dealer until after the Daimler merger when it all started going to hell and I got out in 2005 and watched them destroy what used to be a great company and ruin a bunch of those same dealers that Iacocca defended.
Well said. All true.

Tom Pappert is still around and I would put him in the same class with Mr. Iacocca. Unfortunately he doesn't work for Chrysler anymore.
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